Too much information: links for week ending 2 December 2011

“Big Brother Incorporated”: project to track surveillance manufacturers launched
Privacy International (PI) and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) launched a comprehensive database of companies that sell surveillance products this week. Big Brother Incorporated includes information about the types of equipment and software manufactured by each company, links to key company information, as well as promotional material about the products published by WikiLeaks. The launch prompted major international television and newspaper coverage of the issues behind the export of Western surveillance technology to repressive regimes.
Big Brother Incorporated | PI press release | WikiLeaks | Bloomberg Interview | Washington Post | The Hindu

Important victory for open internet at ECJ
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that a proposed measure ordering an internet service provider to install a filtering and blocking system in order to protect intellectual property rights was in breach of European law. The case – SABAM vs Scarlet – originated in Belgium. European Digital Rights (EDRi) have provided detailed FAQs about the ruling, stating: “this result is hugely important, as it protects the openness of the internet”.

Global Chokepoints project launched
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) this week announced the launch of a new initiative – the Global Censorship Chokepoints Project – to document how copyright enforcement is being used to censor online free expression in countries around the world.

Sri Lanka: Government blocks critical news websites
Reporters Without Borders reports that four leading Sri Lankan news websites have been blocked from access by citizens inside Sri Lanka since 6 November, just a day after the government announced that news websites with “any content relating to Sri Lanka” needed to register with the country’s media and information ministry.

Russia: the FSB will see you now
Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan report for on the dubious role the FSB is playing in piloting biometric identification schemes in Russia.

Thailand: Government asks Facebook to remove “unlawful” content
The Next Web reports that the government of Thailand has contacted Facebook with a request to remove more than 10,000 of its pages deemed in breach of the country’s “lese majeste laws”, which proscribe criticism of the Thai royal family. The government has also warned Thai citizens that they should not comment on or use the Facebook “like” button to endorse messages that are in breach of this law.

Ghana: new report highlights uncontrollable flow of e-waste
Make IT fair have released a new report highlighting the local health and environmental consequences of processing the over 600 container-loads of scrap electronics that arrive in Ghana each month.

Why we chose Open Science
In this opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal, the founder of the Allen Institute for Brain Science (and co-founder of Microsoft) explains why “open” is the right path for them: “our mission was to spark breakthroughs, and we didn’t want to exclude underfunded neuroscientists who just might be the ones to make the next leap”.

The personal computer is dead
Jonathan Zittrain describes how “tethered appliances” are usurping programmable computers as the consumer choice for information consumption, and warns of a future of closed information systems that will result.

The #freemona perfect storm: dissent and the networked public sphere
Zeynep Tufekci draws lessons from the Twitter campaign launched to secure the release of Egyptian dissident Mona El Tahawy after her arrest and detention by Egyptian authorities last week.

Issue spotlight: Trade agreements, health and developing countries
A new issue paper published by the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) finds that after countries ratify trade agreements with the US and the EU they often face pressure to implement even stronger intellectual property provisions, with developing countries failing to take advantage of flexibilities available to them to secure access to medicines. Meanwhile, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz argues in The Lancet that provisions in trade agreements are adversely affecting health and, further, that the orthodoxy that equates strong-IP protection with innovation in medicines needs to be questioned.
ICTSD | Lancet (pdf)

Audio: The life scientific
In this in-depth interview with the BBC, Sir John Sulston, UK lead of the human genome project, makes a strong case against patenting genetic information.

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